Caring for patients of Islamic denomination: Critical care nurses' experiences in Saudi Arabia

J Clin Nurs. 2006 Dec;15(12):1565-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2005.01525.x.


Aim: To describe the critical care nurses' experiences in caring for patients of Muslim denomination in Saudi Arabia.

Background: Caring is known to be the essence of nursing but many health-care settings have become more culturally diverse. Caring has been examined mainly in the context of Western cultures. Muslims form one of the largest ethnic minority communities in Britain but to date, empirical studies relating to caring from an Islamic perspective is not well documented. Research conducted within the home of Islam would provide essential truths about the reality of caring for Muslim patients.

Design: Phenomenological descriptive. Methods. Six critical care nurses were interviewed from a hospital in Saudi Arabia. The narratives were analysed using Colaizzi's framework.

Results: The meaning of the nurses' experiences emerged as three themes: family and kinship ties, cultural and religious influences and nurse-patient relationship. The results indicated the importance of the role of the family and religion in providing care. In the process of caring, the participants felt stressed and frustrated and they all experienced emotional labour. Communicating with the patients and the families was a constant battle and this acted as a further stressor in meeting the needs of their patients.

Conclusions: The concept of the family and the importance and meaning of religion and culture were central in the provision of caring. The beliefs and practices of patients who follow Islam, as perceived by expatriate nurses, may have an effect on the patient's health care in ways that are not apparent to many health-care professionals and policy makers internationally.

Relevance to clinical practice: Readers should be prompted to reflect on their clinical practice and to understand the impact of religious and cultural differences in their encounters with patients of Islam denomination. Policy and all actions, decisions and judgments should be culturally derived.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Islam*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Nursing Care*
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Saudi Arabia